Spokane police searched Wednesday for a man they say sped off in a stolen vehicle after inadvertently knocking an officer’s gun from his hand.
Sam Banks, 25, was driving a stolen green Honda in north Spokane at about 4 p.m. when police stopped him, said Cmdr. Joe Walker. As the officer approached, he saw Banks trying to start the car. The officer drew his gun, pointing it at Banks and demanding he exit the vehicle.
But police say Banks managed to start the car and drive away. The moving car knocked the officer’s gun from his hand and into the car, Walker said.
Banks led police on a high-speed chase to the 6000 block of North Mayfair Street, where he crashed the vehicle into a fence post. Banks fled the scene. The gun was found in the car, Walker said, and police believe Banks didn’t know the weapon was in the vehicle.
The officer whose weapon was lost suffered minor scrapes on his hands. There were no other injuries.
Higher rates kick in for Avista in Idaho
Beginning Tuesday, Avista’s residential customers in Idaho will pay about 6.8 percent more for natural gas and 0.4 percent more for electricity.
The higher rates were approved by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission this week.
The natural gas hike is tied to higher wholesale costs for gas, which account for about 55 percent of a customer’s bill, Avista officials said.
On the electric side, the utility asked for an increase in the surcharge that pays for the company’s energy-efficiency rebate program, which encourages customers to insulate and upgrade to more efficient appliances.
The electric rate increase also reflects smaller credits available through the Bonneville Power Administration’s residential exchange program. The program provides a share of the benefits from federal dams on the Columbia River system to customers of investor-owned utilities through a monthly credit on their bills.
A similar request for rate hikes for Avista’s Washington customers is pending.
Several child-luring incidents reported
The Spokane Police Department has responded to four incidents of child luring in the last week, all near schools or parks. It is unknown if the incidents are related.
• On Sept. 19, a man called out to a 6-year-old near Jefferson Elementary School. He’s described as tall, 175-180 pounds, in his 40s and wearing a dark hat and red-and-white windbreaker.
• A gray pickup truck pulling a trailer pulled up to a sixth-grader at Audubon Elementary School on Sept. 19. The driver is described as a black male with no hair. Two other men were in the car.
• On Tuesday at Coeur d’Alene Park, a white male in his 50s with white curly hair offered a child candy if he got into his white RV. The suspect was last seen wearing a black sweatshirt and black pants.
• On Wednesday a man in a light blue ’80s-model van was seen driving slowly in the area of Oak Street between Liberty Avenue and Garland Avenue as kids left school. He’s been seen on several occasions in the area.
Spokane police reminded parents to talk with their children about how to avoid dangerous situations. If a child is approached by a stranger, they should say no, run away, yell as loudly as possible then tell a trustworthy adult.
Call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233 if you have information about these incidents.
Hillyard shooting lands two men in jail
Two men were jailed Wednesday morning following a shooting in Hillyard that police are investigating as gang-related.
Jayme Rodgers, 22, and Thomas Weatherwax, 25, both face charges of drive-by shooting and first-degree assault after shots were fired near a convenience store at 5803 N. Market St. around 10:55 p.m. Tuesday, according to a Spokane Police Department news release. No injuries were reported.
Police arrested Rodgers following a brief search of the area. Weatherwax hid in a home near Perry Street and Rowan Avenue before being persuaded to surrender by negotiators and a SWAT team overnight, according to Spokane police.
More charges are expected in the case.
Lake Pend Oreille drawdown begins
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has begun drawing down Lake Pend Oreille to winter levels.
Corps officials expect to lower the lake by about a foot by the end of September, to 2,060 feet above sea level. Lake levels are projected to drop to 2,054 feet by Oct. 31 and to 2,051 feet during the first week of November. Officials expect to hold lake levels in that range through Dec. 31.
The Army Corps operates Albeni Falls Dam, which regulates the level of Lake Pend Oreille. The minimum winter lake level was set this month after an interagency meeting.
Idaho school district may arm its staff
SANDPOINT – A school board in North Idaho is considering a new school security policy that includes training and arming district staff and teachers.
The proposed policy has emerged after months of study by the Lake Pend Oreille School Board, according to the Bonner County Daily Bee.
Board chairman Steve Youngdahl presented the proposal this week, saying unguarded schools are more attractive targets for mass shootings.
Under the proposal, the district would strategically select and train staff to carry concealed weapons in school and integrate firearms into a broader emergency response and lockdown procedure.
The board has scheduled a public forum on the policy next month.